Government in the 1980s
In many ways, the 1980s are best described by the list of events which
- No nation bigger than Belize achieved it's independence,
breaking a trend which had been running since the Chinese Revolution of 1911. [n.1]
- All the monarchies of the world survived the decade intact for the first
time in seven decades.
- Despite all the saber rattling from both sides of the Cold War, there were
no significant changes in the map of Communism and the alignment of allies in
the 9½ years preceding 1 July 1989.
- It was the first decade in five without a Arab-Israeli War, and the first
in three without an Indo-Pakistani War, owing largely to the fact that Israel
and India had acquired nuclear weapons in the 1970s.
- There were no (okay, very few) major outbreaks of either war or peace
during the 80s. Of the 15 bloodiest wars of the 1980s, 11
span the entire decade. [n.2] They were chronic conflicts
that seemed to burn without beginning or end, already ignited by New Year's Eve,
1979, and still going strong New Year's Day, 1990. Only the Iran-Iraq War was
entirely contained within the decade.
The 1980s, however, were a decade of growing freedom in the Third World. In
South America, the number of military governments drastically dropped off --
from 7 in 1982 to 2 five years later. Along the Pacific Rim of Asia, the
pendulum was also swinging back toward democracy as local economies boomed.
Meanwhile, pragmatic, reformist regimes had come to power in the Soviet Union
and China and were gradually dismantling the Communist state. Then, in the
final few months of the decade, the avalanche hit, and the Communists
surrendered power throughout eastern Europe.
- Selected Sources:
- Freedom House [http://www.freedomhouse.org]
- Kidron & Segal, The New State of the World Atlas (1984)
- Kidron & Smith, The War Atlas (1983)
- ... and other scattered sources.
New countries of the 1980s: Antigua, Belize, Brunei, St. Kitts, Tuvalu,
Total area set free: less than West Virginia
Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, East
Timor, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Lebanon,
Mozambique and the Phillipines. The exceptions are
Uganda, the Sudan, Liberia and Iran-Iraq.
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Last updated February 2000
Copyright © 1998-2000 Matthew White